In 1893, Phillies' offense was a major hit
Club led league in several categories, including homers, slugging
Before the start of the 1893 season, the National League moved the pitching mound from 50 feet to home plate to 60 feet, 6 inches, a distance that hasn't changed since. A year earlier, the league expanded from eight teams to 12.
Whether it was the new distance, diluted talent from the expansion or a combination of both, the offense picked up across the game.
Leading the way during the 133-game season were the Phillies. Manager Harry Wright's club led the league with a .301 average, 1,101 runs, 1,552 hits, 246 doubles, 80 home runs and a .431 slugging percentage. (For comparison, the Phillies' modern record for runs scored is 944, in 156 games in 1930).
Twice the Phillies battered 34-game winner Cy Young, 16-6 and 12-5.
Leading the league on July 26, the Phillies faded and finished fourth for the third straight year, 72-57 (plus 4 ties). They ended the season on a 21-game road trip and won just eight games.
Most of the offensive outburst came from the outfield of Ed Delahanty, Billy Hamilton and Sam Thompson. Hamilton missed 50 games because of injuries, but led the club in hitting (.380) followed by Thompson (.370) and Delahanty (.368).
Combined, that trio scored 385 runs, collected 576 hits and struck out just 34 times.
Delahanty led the NL in homers (19), RBIs (146), total bases (347) and slugging percentage (.583). Thompson led in hits (222) and doubles (37) and Hamilton on-base percentage (.490). (Some web sources claim Hamilton won the batting title, but other sources disagree).
The Phillies also featured a left-handed throwing catcher in Jack Clements, whose 17 homers were second-best on the club.
Right-handers Gus Weyhing (23-16) and Ked Carsey (20-15) were the best pitchers on an eight-man pitching staff.
Fans must have loved the offensive show, as the Phillies led the league in attendance, drawing a club-record 293,017.
Five members of the team were eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Delahanty (1945), Wright (1953), Hamilton (1961), right-hander Tim Keefe (1964) and Thompson (1974). The 36-year-old Keefe ended a 14-year career with a 10-7 record in 1893.
Wright was dismissed as manager after the 1893 season. He died at age 60, less than two years after he was let go. In 10 seasons with the Phillies, he was 636-566, the most wins until Gene Mauch came along. Like Mauch, Wright never won a pennant.
(Sources: Baseball-reference.com; Phillies Encyclopedia).
Larry Shenk is the vice president of Alumni Relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.